Bettors in Arizona can finally bet on sports legally, as of Saturday. Fantasy sports are the only option available at the time being, but the launch is a step in the right direction for sports betting enthusiasts. While the full gambit of sports betting options is not immediately available, those interested will welcome fantasy sports with open arms, as they wait in anticipation for the launch of online and in-person sportsbooks, which is set to arrive in time for the start of the National Football League season. The launch of sports betting in the state has been a long time coming, and some would argue that it’s well past due, as nearly half the country has already legalized some form of sports betting. The legislation approved in the Grand Canyon State suggests that fantasy sports betting is just the first of many dominos to fall in the roll out of sports betting options.
Details of the Sports Betting Legislation
Earlier this year, Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation that allows for sweeping changes throughout the state related to sports betting. Part of the legislation approved six fantasy sports operators to receive a license in the state. Those licenses were awarded to industry leaders, DraftKings and FanDuel, as well as other big names including FFPC, Yahoo, Fantasy Sports Shark, and Underdog Sports. As of midnight on Saturday, bettors can sign up and begin building their own teams to wager on virtual games.
The legislation signed by Ducey also promised to expand the type of gambling allowed at tribal casinos, allowing tribes to accept wagers on professional sporting events through in-person and online sportsbooks. Last week, the Arizona Department of Gaming awarded licenses to ten Native American tribes and eight professional sports teams or venues, allowing them to accept bets. Tribal casinos will now have the option to open both brick-and-mortar and online sportsbooks, but these options have yet to launch officially.
Getting in on the Action
In addition to the fantasy sports betting licenses issued, some lucrative partnerships have surfaced. DraftKings has established a partnership with TPC Scottsdale and FanDuel has partnered with the Phoenix Suns, offering fans a familiar entry point into the world of fantasy sports betting. All of the fantasy sports operators allow bettors to sign up for free in order to begin constructing their teams and rosters.
Fantasy sports give fans the opportunity to interact with their favorite teams and sports in new and exciting ways, with the opportunity to make some money as well. After constructing their rosters, bettors match up with other players who have made rosters on their own and compete in head-to-head competitions. Americans have been enjoying fantasy sports for years, most often through fantasy football during the NFL season. In fact, nearly 45.9 million Americans played fantasy sports in 2019. Now Arizona hopes that fantasy sports will be enough to hold bettors over until additional options arrive later this year.
Timeline for Additional Sports Betting Options
According to a press release issued earlier this month, sports betting on actual games will not officially launch until September 9. The Gaming Department carefully selected the sportsbook licenses distributed based on criteria that included community contributions, regulatory compliance, and the ability to operate sports betting within six months. Geographic diversity was also taken into consideration when issuing licenses.
The sports teams and venues that received licenses will have the option of partnering with a third-party to develop and run their sportsbooks and online presence, much like the Phoenix Suns have done with FanDuel. These sports teams and venues that have received licenses can run sports betting operations at their stadiums, NASCAR racetracks, or golf courses. As part of the legislation, these venues can also operate a retail location within a quarter mile of their venue, as well as an online sportsbook.
While legal sports betting in Arizona may be lagging behind other areas of the country, the anticipated sports betting options do more than enough to satisfy the bettors who have been patiently waiting, and many are looking forward to the launch of traditional sportsbooks within the next month.